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Re: img alt text, links and titles

From: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@w3.org>
Date: Wed, 16 Jan 2002 05:02:32 -0500 (EST)
To: Rebecca Cox <rebecca@cwa.co.nz>
cc: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.30.0201160452520.20590-100000@tux.w3.org>
Who is asking for the long descriptive alt text? Users, or people who know
that they need alt text?

I realise that telling people to get a working browser is seen as acceptable
if they have something that does a good job for a few people, like iCab, but
not if they use Netscape or IE, however bad they may be. But as a design
professional, and as experts in accessibility, I think we have a
responsibility to ourselves and our colleagues to establish the areas on
which we have expertise, and where our advice is ignored at the peril of
accessibility. (We can't force people to make things accessible, even with
legal threats. We can encourage, help, and tell people when they are making
something less accessible. At one point I had a policy of charging 20 times
my hourly rate for doing things that I expressly said were bad ideas. But
people still paid that, which was a bit discouraging for me.)

It is possible that we mean different things when we talk of long
descriptive links, but if you are being asked to put something like "Picture
of an apple - link to better health page" as an alt for an apple icon which
might/should have a text label in the same link, do try to just say no...

Of course one of the problems is that there isn't a huge consensus on how to
interpret the checkpoints, requirements and guidelines of various bodies. My
own purpose in writing about these kinds of issues on this list is to test my
ideas by offering them to a broad range of intellgient, interested, peers,
and find out whether a given idea comes out OK, or is roundly trashed and
shown to be foolishness. At least I am learning then <grin/>.

Just my personal thoughts.


On Wed, 16 Jan 2002, Rebecca Cox wrote:

  A problem I have been noticing is that Windows (IE and Netscape) will
  only show the alt tooltip, where you have got alt text in the image
  tag, and title in the link tag - so the title text is not ever
  available as a tooltip, on Windows' most common browsers.

  So I get requests to put long, descriptive alt text on images used as
  links - even those for navigation! :(


  At 12:26 PM -0500 1/15/02, Charles McCathieNevile wrote:
  >Yep, this makes good sense.
  >On Tue, 15 Jan 2002, Chris Croome wrote:
  >  If you want to include the words "home page" how about doing it as a
  >  title on the hyperlink:
  >    <a href="/" title="Sheffield City Council home page"><img ...></a>
  >  Chris

Charles McCathieNevile    http://www.w3.org/People/Charles  phone: +61 409 134 136
W3C Web Accessibility Initiative     http://www.w3.org/WAI    fax: +1 617 258 5999
Location: 21 Mitchell street FOOTSCRAY Vic 3011, Australia
(or W3C INRIA, Route des Lucioles, BP 93, 06902 Sophia Antipolis Cedex, France)
Received on Wednesday, 16 January 2002 05:02:43 UTC

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